Little Italy was thought by some New Yorkers to be a thing of the past as the neighborhood quickly began to shrink. Today, the neighborhood is on the rebound with a reinvigorating Italian restaurant scene that is back serving al dente spaghetti pasta and Italian dishes that made the neighborhood famous. Besides, authentic dishes Little Italy has been known for its delicious pizzas and a new pizzeria, 180, has just debuted to reclaim the neighborhood as the hotbed of Italian fare it once was.
Opening today, 180 is located on the second floor of a tenement building on the corner of Hester and Mulberry Streets at, you guessed it, 180 Hester Street. This wood-burning pizza speakeasy of sorts is hidden but for good reason, the eatery gives diners an authentic taste as well as a little family history as they enjoy their freshly handmade pies. Owned by Louis and Anthony Fontana, Little Italy natives who grew up working in their family’s restaurant Giovanna’s (downstairs from 180), their new joint venture is located in a space that pays tribute to their grandmother who still calls 180 Hester Street home. With only seating for 36, the dining room displays knick-knacks and even a chandelier from their grandmother’s upstairs apartment.
Anyone who lives in Miami knows that we are no strangers to the night owl lifestyle. In a city where one meets for dinner with friends at 9:00 PM (which really means 10:00 PM) and people don’t arrive at the club until well after midnight, it should come as no surprise that Miami has its fair share of late night eats. Nothing works up an appetite quite like a night of drinking and dancing, and with Miami’s unmistakable Latin flavor, post-party dining options include a wide array of not only typical pizza and burger joints, but favorites from throughout Latin America.
Few restaurant empires have as unique a story as that of Serafina. Two best friends, Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato, were stranded in Hampton Bay one day during a horrific storm and made a pact to each other if they came out of it alive: to open a restaurant serving the best pizza and pasta in the world. Nine restaurants later, including one in São Paulo, the have finally reached the Sunshine State and have continued to make South Beach one of the most delicious concentrations of authentic Italian cuisine. Occupying the space attached to the Dream South Beach Hotel that formerly housed Tudor House, Serafina’s Miami Beach location is in the heart of all the action, making it the perfect stop to savor exquisitely prepared northern Italian cuisine before enjoying an evening of SoBe’s legendary nightlife. A recent dinner at Serafina demonstrated that besides an unwavering dedication to quality, the driving force behind Serafina’s success throughout the world is a love and passion for food that can be felt and tasted everywhere at this restaurant
San Francisco has many different types of Italian cuisines. Perhaps you’ve gone for the Tuscan cuisine of Locanda or Ligurian pastas at Farina both in the heart of the “foodie hot spot,” the Mission district. I recommend venturing further north to the Marina and popping in for your fill of carbs at Ristobar. If you want to soak up a quick bite and a nice cocktail, snag a seat at in the bar area. You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas; the crust is chewy and firm with the right amount of flavor. I suggest giving the Vesta a taste; ricotta, fennel sausage and wild arugula compliment each other without overwhelming your palate with one flavor. Don’t shy away from the sides either. Order the broccolini piccanti if you want to give your mouth a little kick, the heat is a good night ender.
Helming the kitchens at restaurants like Osteria Morini, Ai Fiori, and Marea, Michael White is easily one of the best chefs in NYC. So, like many other foodies, I eagerly awaited the opening of his much-anticipated Midwestern-style pizzeria, Nicoletta. His most casual restaurant to date, Nicoletta opened its doors in the East Village on June 15th. The 58-seat box-shaped space with high ceilings has minimal décor, boasting exposed brick walls, metal chairs, and marble-topped tables, each equipped with a built in pizza stand to maximize table space. 38 additional seats will be added outside. But let’s get to the pies…
Vending machines: they’re life savers to anyone that doesn’t have the time to wait in line for a meal between classes and 15 minute breaks at work. Sure, there’s not a lot inside that’s nutritionally sound unless gummy candies with vitamin C count, but help us survive a few more hours. They’re simple machines, not exactly built to churn out a nice meal. That, however, might be changing. Meet Let’s Pizza, the vending machine that makes and dispenses freshly made pizza.
Situated between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, it takes after its original MacDougal Street location, except with shorter lines. They offer their falafel sandwich, now priced at $2.50, a signature classic wrapped in tin foil, complete with ample tomatoes, lettuce and tahina sauce (be sure to grab extra paper napkins!). Mamoun’s also offers a vast selection of discounted Middle Eastern Cuisine, with options like lentil soup, tabouleh, hummus and shawarma. There are a couple booths inside Mamoun’s St. Marks, as well as a few small outdoor-seating tables, a perfect vantage-point to enjoy some cheap-eats while you check out the heart of the St. Marks scene.
Ribalta, the “institution of higher pizza,” brings pizza connoisseurs a slice of heaven through their authentic Italian ingredients. Ribalta uses imported Italian-milled flour and 8-year-old yeast generated from an Italian mother dough for each pie. Besides Italian ingredients, Ribalta utilizes their three ovens to create 25 different pizzas, all cooked in their appropriate oven determined by style. Want to learn the science behind the perfect slice? Sign up for a class at the world renowned pizza school, Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, which calls Ribalta its home away from home. If all of that won’t satisfy head pizzaiolos Max Bruno and Massimiliano Crocetti desire to bring New York diners a pure and complete Neapolitan pizza experience, flying over a master pizzaiolo directly from Naples for four days might do the trick.
The golden mosaic tiles of the pizza oven of Donatella Arpaia’s namesake restaurant, Donatella, acts as a beacon calling to diners, “come inside, you look hungry. I’ll cook something for you” just as countless Neapolitan mothers have done for centuries. Once you’re off the busy streets of Chelsea, sit down at one of Donatella’s marble topped tables, drink a glass of the finest Italian Campanian wines, and snack on a plate of crostinis while you painstakingly decide which of the pizzas you plan to try. Keep in mind though; Donatella’s is not your typical New York City Neapolitan pizza-focused restaurant. Donatella Arpaia, who is a recurring guest judge on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef” series, a contributor to NBC’s “Today Show,” as well as being behind a number of successful restaurants, such as Kefi and Dona, feels that Donatella is her most personal endeavor to date. Her goal for Donatella was to capture the traditional foods she enjoyed while summering in Naples during her childhood and bring them to New York. By using authentic and fresh ingredients (We mean fresh as in picked up from customs that very morning.) Donatella celebrates not only the famed pizza of the region but the pastas, desserts, and wines as well.